Vice President Joe Biden...after laying the wreath at the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier....my Army son Samuel is there! He is one of the Old Guard soldiers right next to the Tomb, right behind the V.P.!
We got up early, and arrived at the Tomb with a few hours to spare....(I stood there for way too long for my creaky old knees, but that's another story for another day.)
We watched the Old Guard soldier walk 21 steps, stop and wait a count of 21, turn, walk, ect. We saw the changing of the guard twice while we waited.
We were right there, and it was amazing.
The security was tight. We arrived at Arlington, and as we walked through the welcome building after using the restrooms, I heard a man shouting, "Mam! You can not have that! Mam, please, you have to throw that away!". I kept walking, glancing around for whoever he was shouting to. It was me. I had the audacity to have a water bottle with me! He said, "You have to get rid of that! You can enjoy it now, but you cannot take it into the cemetery, our vice president, Joe Biden, is going to be here today, and you cannot have a water bottle!" um, okay, I totally see the logic, but whatever. I do not argue with the Secret Service. Nope, not me.
They were everywhere. Military police, Secret Service, Washington Metro Police. We went through security up at the tomb, too. I was kind of glad they were being extra cautious, seeing that my son is a soldier, and there are really bad people out there who hate us.
Anyway. We stood on those steps at the tomb for hours, and it was totally worth it. Seeing the soldiers from all the branches march their Honor Guard units up the steps, and move in unison, they were awesome!
Our trip was amazing. We walked for miles, visited museums, went out to dinner, and lounged in the hot tub at the hotel. I have pictures and stories and good memories of how we got lost every five minutes, but never really too lost.
Evelyn, Mirielle, and Samuel at the Jefferson Memorial.
Mirielle Joy and Evelyn Joy....tourists.
Me, and Samuel James. He is so grown up! Just kidding, he only looks grown up. I brought him Frankenberry, Count Chocula, and Boo Berry, so he had to stop at the commissary to get milk to bring back to his barracks. He has this love for detail in what he is passionate about, so for him to memorize the movements and steps required for Old Guard perfection....it's his thing. Edited: I realized after I wrote this, as I stood at the sink washing pans from dinner...that this is not fair to Sam, he really has grown up. I am his mommy, so I will always see the sweet child in him. He is responsible now. He takes good care of himself, his uniform, his money, and stands firm in his faith. He still enjoys the simple things in life, but he IS grown up. :) There, I feel better.
This bear is in the Museum of Natural History. It looks like it needs a hug.
Samuel and Paul near the Washington Monument.
Air and Space Museum. I admired it from the bench I planted my rear end on upon entering. See, we had walked and walked to get there. We found free parking down near the Jefferson Memorial, and hoofed it down the sidewalks. Oh, don't get me wrong, I am a country girl in the big city, and I couldn't get enough of the people...and the cute strollers I saw...and the traffic....it was all interesting, but my poor knees didn't love it on little bit.
Paul at the Library of Congress. This was an interesting stop. Mirielle dropped us off and went to find a parking spot. While we waited, we walked by the Supreme Court building...and lots of security. The nation's Capitol building is across the street from the Library of Congress, and these two police officers were walking up and down, on patrol. One of them has what I think is an M-14 rifle. I made sure I behaved myself and didn't look suspicious.
So we entered the Library of Congress, and had to pass through security. I beeped, of course. My purse was searched, as per usual, (I always put the baggy of girl stuff on the top, just to make it fun for them)(it usually ensures they don't look too long in my lovely purse)(not that they'll find anything but an apple, a baggie of almonds, a baggy chock full of tylenol, ibuprofen, tummy tablets, band-aids)(I don't carry a diaper bag anymore after like 25 years straight of carrying one, but I still have supplies). Anyway. I beeped. So I had to go back through the scanner. I still beeped. I had to take my boots off. Now, I am not a small lady. It is no small feat (ha, feet!) for me to just remove my boots. I had nothing to lean on. As I yanked off boot number one, I lost my balance, and grabbed the scanner thing, just as the lady who had been behind me was walking through it. The guard guy did not like this one little bit, it made it beep, he told me not to touch it, I should have just sat down and cried. But I didn't, I just stood there trying to balance, yanking those boots off.
And then walked through again, and thankfully it didn't beep, I was in no mood for a pat-down.
We visited Robert E. Lee's former home, which was a plantation before it became Arlington cemetery. This pram and doll china belonged to his children.
Sam is a good tour guide. Here he is with Evelyn.
Sam with Evelyn again...
Arlington Cemetery is a beautiful place, but it is also extremely sad. I saw a woman sitting on a grave, washing it off with a waterbottle, wiping it down. She put flowers there, and watered them. She sat there for a bit, then when she got up, she leaned over and kissed the grave stone. She walked away with her head on an older woman's shoulder, I presume her Mama. I imagine it was her husband there. After she left, I wanted to go look, but I felt like I had already intruded on such a private moment. We saw a young soldier's stone, who died in Iraq, with pictures of two little boys taped to it. Yes, it is a sad place.
One evening we had a picnic across the river from the Jefferson Memorial.
The Washington Monument at night...
Mirielle drove with Evelyn as co-pilot, Paul and I in the back seat.
But after we picked Samuel up from the base, he was co-pilot. The three of us loved being squished in the back seat of Mirielle's Mitsubishi.
Evelyn 15, Mirielle, 25 and ...,
Samuel's in this group of soldiers, but can't be seen in this photo because of the angle. I am proud that he was chosen to be in this important ceremony, being such a new guy in the Old Guard.
Phew. What a weekend. I won't lie and say the whole thing was wonderful and glorious. My feet ached and my knees creaked. I tried very hard not to wreck it for everyone else, so I suffered in silence, mostly. Mirielle was wonderful about walking slower with me, and dropping me off or picking me up if she could. In our family, we joke around a lot, and if you have ever watched Parks and Recreation, you will understand about being The Jerry of the group. Jerry can't do anything right, no one respects him. He gets laughed at and mocked and dissed no matter what he does. I felt like the Jerry of the group, even though I protested and laughed about it, it was rather funny some of the time. I tried not to spill my drink or drop food on my shirt, but oops.
Overall, though, it was really nice to be away and the hot tub and pool were great. The happy hour in the evening at the hotel was free, and we enjoyed that too. The breakfasts were amazing, the coffee was good, and our room/suite was comfy, and we had two t.v.s.
Being away from home doesn't mean you don't still have to sort things out that are going on there. I still got texts and calls:)
And when I walked in the door, I saw the evidence of how much I do around here. Yet, I couldn't complain, because these older kids held down the fort for four days. Margaret took her SAT's Saturday, worked at the Dome on Monday, and took the kids out for pizza on Friday night. Joseph worked at the Dome twice, and Suzanne watched the three youngest plus two other kids all day on Saturday. They were busy doing other things too, so I can't expect them to have the house perfect. And when I asked each of them about it, they all assured me that they did tons of work. Ah well. It didn't kill me to come home and clean.
And do laundry. Camille was going to sleep on the floor because her bedding needed washing. Um, no, I can just put clean stuff on honey. blah. It made me resolve to take good care of myself because they obviously can't live without me.
The house is quiet right now. Paul isn't home from work yet. The kids went to activity club.